Son of a reporter/artist and a surgeon. Grew up in Peekskill and Kingston NY. Attended Christ Church School, and Graphic Art School, studying sculpture. Roamed the South selling sketches. Made acting debut in Camille in a New Orleans theatre in 1925. Arrived in Los Angeles in 1927, worked in local theatre. Applied as scenic designer to Cecil B. DeMille, who rejected his designs but gave him voice work in several films. Debuted on film in Tol'able David (1930), billed as Peter Richmond. Protege and close friend of John Barrymore. Extremely prolific movie character actor, while simultaneously maintaining a stage career in classic leading roles such as Hamlet and Malvolio. Typed in later years as horror star. Member of the "John Ford Stock Company."